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Theatre in Kalisz, 1900-1914

history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1896 | beginning of the theatre construction

(detail)1900 | end of construction

(detail)27.7.1900 | 1st performance in the new building
Stanisław Żyżykowski: Do rozwodu, Théodore Barrière, Jules Lorin: Le piano de Berthe
(detail)1914 | demolition of the building


(detail)Józef Chrzanowski |architect
Architect, author of the project.



A hundred years after the foundations of the first Wojciech Bogusławski building were laid, on July 24, 1900 a new theatre opened wide its doors, situated traditionally at the end of Josephine Avenue. The great building, erected according to the design by engineer Józef Chrzanowski (future author of the Polish Theatre in Warsaw) and imitating neo-Renaissance, was equipped with latest machines, gas system and water supply. Chairs were imported from Vienna for 486 spectators, a crystal chandelier was bought in Berlin as well as 6 modern, ready-made decoration sets: sitting room interiors, "free neighbourhood", "town" and "street on water", which could serve the most diversified repertoire. At the inauguration two simple French comedies were staged performed by artists of Warsaw Rozmaitości (Variety Theatre), featuring Aleksandra Ludow and Marian Prażmowski, and a ballet divertissement. Soon the theatre became home of 120-man company of Julian Myszkowski, one of the most eminent operetta managers and acting directors, who signed a contract for 6 half-year seasons bringing his own technical staff, orchestra, 200 trunks of equipment and clothing. Revolution events between 1905-1906 prevented him from fulfilling the contract after three years of acting. Anyway, Myszkowski's management originated a regular theatre in Kalisz. All the more he returned to the town-on-Prosna still in 1911 and acted - with small intervals - till mid March 1913. During Myszkowski's entrepreneurship, operetta reigned absolutely on Kalisz stage. It was staged on the highest artistic level. Stanisław Knake-Zawadzki tried to break this "insignificant" repertoire, by staging in 1906 in Kalisz two acts of Wyspiański's Wesele (The Wedding). His company also performed Pan Tadeusz (Master Thaddeus) by Mickiewicz, Powrót posła (The Deputy's Return) by Niemcewicz, Othello by Shakespeare and Na dnie (The Lower Depths) and Mieszczanie (The Petty Bourgeois) by Gorki. To give credit to complaining critics, Kalisz audience again found this repertoire too grave: "the same audience, which offered silver wreaths and subsidies, in this case, stint on several kopecks to see a play of great literary value". More enthusiasm was evoked by Aleksander Zelwerowicz's theatre, which between 1909-1911 visited Kalisz several times staging Wesele and Sędziowie (The Judges) by Wyspiański, Fantazy (Fantasy) by Słowacki, Irydion (Iridion) by Krasiński, fragments of Dziady (Forefather's Eve) by Mickiewicz or then fashionable Upiory (Ghosfs) by Ibsen, among others. In 1911 Gabriela Zapolska came by the Prosna with her Panna Maliczewska (Miss Maliczewska). In the following season, she aroused sensation and public protest of Kalisz women caused by Kobieta bez skazy (Faultless Woman), where she created one of the main roles. On July 30 1914 the curtain in Kalisz theatre went down for the last time. On the stage Wincenty Rapacki (junior) acted in an operetta, Kochany Augustynek (Sweet Little Augustus). After the town was bombed at the beginning of August by Germans, what remained after the theatre were only burnt walls. Such was a short life of this building erected with so much effort and costs. It seemed that this barbaric act would deprive Kalisz citizens of any desire to have their own stage. It didn't. There existed some persistence and conviction that the theatre is a symbol of the town. In 1920 the building reconstruction commenced. The works lasted for 16 years according to the design by an architect, Czesław Przybylski. The building was opened in its present shape in 1936 and in October 1936 received the name of Wojciech Bogusławski. The first host of the Municipal Theatre was a "redoubt flower", a close associate of Juliusz Osterwa, Iwo Gall, who inaugurated his management with Pan Damazy (Master Damazy) by Bliziński. Already the second season of his artistic activity, despite gestures made towards unrefined public tastes, ended with a complete failure. An actress, Stefania Gintelówna, bitterly recalls that period: “The theatre was so empty that we played for 6 people. Eventually, in May - June 1938 we almost faced misery. Then, a certain group of «art patrons» suggested receiving actors for dinners... Haggling began who would like whom..."

The inter-war period was not favourable for the artists. The above-quoted example confirms the general image. A completely ruined town, pauperised society, incoherent local government policy, tom with party and individual interests - all this caused that only for a short time did Karol Adwentowicz and Stefan Jaracz's companies come to Kalisz. An effort made by Michał Konstantynowicz and Jerzy Walden in 1926 to revive a regular theatre was not successful. The theatre revived for a short time with a new building until 1939.

Joanna Chojka Wojciech Bogusławski Theatre, Wydawnictwo Sztuka i Rynek



1. Bruś-Kosińska J., Budynki teatralne Kalisza, Kaliskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk, Kalisz 2007.

2. Bezpieczeństwo przeciwpożarowe budynku teatralnego, „Kaliszanin" 1871, No. 15.

3. Dodatek Ilustrowany do No. 169, „Gazeta Kaliska" 1900, No. 169.

4. Chodyński A.,  Kieszonkowa kroniczka  historyczna miasta Kalisz, Kalisz 1885.

5. Chodyński A., Teatr w Kaliszu, „Gazeta Kaliska" 1900, No. 164, 165, 168, 169; 1911,No. 13.

6. Dobak-Splitt K., Splitt J.A., Kalisz poprzez wieki, Kalisz 1988.

7. Dzieje Kalisza, editor W. Rusiński, Poznań 1977.

8. „Gazeta Kaliska" 1900, No. 55, 145, 156, 164-169, 210, 215; 1911, No. 13; 1919, No. 87: 1920, No. 65; 1929, No. 91, 1936, No. 314, 316, 285.

9. Kaliska świątynia Melpomeny, „Gazeta Poznańska" 1984, No. 191.

10. Kalisz w odświętnej szacie, „Gazeta Kaliska" 1936, nr 314.

11. Kaszyński S., Kalisz. Teatr, wydano nakładem społecznego komite­tu obchodu XVIII wieków Kalisza, Kalisz 1960.

12. Kaszyński S., Dzieje teatru kaliskiego, [w:] Osiemnaście wieków Kalisz. Studia i materiały do dziejów miasta Kalisza i regionu kaliskiego, part 2, pod red. A.Gieysztora, Kalisz 1961, p. 345-384.

13. Kaszyński S., Dzieje sceny kaliskiej 1800-1914, Łódź 1962.

14. Kaszyński S., Teatralia kaliskie. Materiały do dziejów sceny kaliskiej (1800-1970), Łódź 1972.

15. Kościelniak W., Cztery kaliskie teatry, „Ziemia Kaliska" 1983, No. 19.

16. Kościelniak W., Zabytki architektury Kalisza, Kalisz 1987.

17. Kościelniak W., O dawnym teatrze kaliskim, „Ziemia Kaliska" 1990, No. 20.

18. Kościelniak W., Cztery teatry kaliskie, „Kalisia Nowa" 1998, No. 3.

19. Kościelniak W., Kalisz - przewodnik, Kalisz 2002.

20. Kościelniak W., Walczak K., Kronika miasta Kalisza, Kalisz 2002.

21. Zarębska T., Odbudowa centrum Kalisza po zniszczeniach w 1914, „Rocznik Kaliski" vol. 10/1977.

22. www.andreas-praefcke.de/cathalia

23. www.stary.kalisz.pl/go_teatr3.php

24. www.teatr.kalisz.pl



Author: Joanna Chojka

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